Choosing a university for your postgraduate degree

By Anne Sexton - Last update


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Choosing a university is a big deal. As a postgrad student you’ve already done it at least once. It is not necessarily any easier the second time!

When you decide to do a postgraduate course you may wonder whether to continue your education with your existing university or head off for fresh pastures. However, it you have the chance to attend a famous institution, or a university known for the quality of a particular programme, it may be wise to accept.

There are definitely advantages to staying put. For one thing, you have built up relationships with lecturers and advisors in your department during your undergraduate years. You probably also have friends, study groups and support structures in place. Plus, you don’t have to worry about the expense and hassle of moving.

However, there are also benefits to changing university. These include the chance to meet other academics and students in your field, make new friends, and live in a new city or town.

Doing your research

  • Google may be your first port of call, but don’t forget to check out prospectuses too.
  • Look out for open days. These give you the chance to check out the campus, meet the lecturers, ask questions and find out about career paths other graduates have gone on to follow.
  • If an institution is too far away, or too expensive to visit on an open day, you can contact lecturers and tutors over email.
  • You should also keep an eye open for virtual educational expos. Like a traditional educational fair, students can collect prospectuses and course details, and they have the opportunity to meet with educational institutions, talk through their options. However, all of this takes place online using your laptop, tablet or smartphone.
  • If you are still completing your undergraduate degree, speak to your lecturers about your career aspirations. They may be able to advise you on institutions, studying under a particular academic or potential funding.

Before making a final decision, here’s what you need to consider.

Course content

The single biggest and most important consideration is course content.

Depending on what you’re studying, postgraduate courses at different universities can vary widely. Therefore, you need to have a very clear idea about the course.

Cost

Like many things in life, where you do your postgraduate degree is going to be constrained by cost. This includes the cost of living, as well as fees. You’ll need to investigate how much rent, utilities, transport, food and entertainment is going to cost per month before accepting a place at a new university. In addition, you will need to investigate funding and financial support options, if any.

Campus

As well as considering course content and costs, you should have a good idea of what facilities are on offer at different institutions. These include the library, research facilities, student groups and societies, transport, accommodation (if any) and IT resources.

Other things to consider

Depending on your life circumstances, you may also need to look at factors such as:

  • Accessibility for those with disabilities
  • Childcare facilities
  • Languages spoken
  • Whether or not part-time work is possible
  • Crime and personal safety

 


Anne Sexton

Springboard+ courses for graduates and employed people
Should you convert? Your guide to postgraduate conversion courses


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